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Wednesday, December 23, 2015

mother in laws

So i have seen a lot of posts, memes posted lately poking fun or complaining about mother in laws.  It makes me sad to see this.  But count your blessings.  You have one.  Yes she may drive you crazy, but you have one.  Yes she may be opinionated, but you have one. Yes she tries to tell you how to raise your children, but you have one.  Yes she says I would never do it that way, but you have one.  You have a mother in law.  Appreciate it.

I don't have a mother in law.  I do but she's not here and hasn't been since before we got married.  She only got to meet 3 of her 7 grandchildren.  Only 2 of those 7 have any recollection of meeting her.  She has a husband, 4 sons and tons of siblings, nieces, nephews, inlaws that all miss her terribly.  Especially around the holidays.

So be grateful for your nagging mother in law.  Some of us don't have one and our husbands, kids and ourselves are missing out on a wonderful lady.  Some days I would give anything to have her tell me I am doing something the wrong way because that would mean my husband didn't lose his mother to cancer and my  kids would know their grandma.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

My Year in Review

I did a 5k with my sister and finished in 48.33.  
Not too bad.  And I think that's better than any other time I have had 
because I don't think I ever finished under 50 min.  

We went on vacation!  And loved it.  
I really really really really want to go back in 2016.
Cruises are the way to go.
Ryan however doesn't want to go every year.

We had Dad's memorial.
Glad that is behind us.

Here is what we have to look forward to in 2016:
Serena is getting confirmed.
She is graduating grade school.
we have freshman night at Central next month
and then registration in March.
YIKES.  where did the time go?

Xander doesn't have much going on other than telling me
oh yeah mom I signed up for basketball.

and I am still studying my Series 6 and 63. 

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Christmas is here

Christmas is here!

And I think I found my Christmas cheer!

Between Serena's Christmas play, Ryan's Christmas party, Serena's Christmas concert, Xander's Christmas concert, visiting my Chicago family this weekend, Christmas eve with the Woltering family, Christmas Day with Ryan's family and my family, I am ready.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

The World We Live In....

It's a scary one!
In the last week, I have read about over 100 phones being bought at various walmarts in Missouri.
You know the toss away, untrackable, used to detonate bombs type phones.
Then you read about propane tanks being stolen in Missouri.

Makes you wonder if something big is going to happen in the ShowMe state or is this a smoke screen so that FBI, and everyone else concentrates on Missouri while terrorist hit another city, like Chicago, which is on the list of cities to be hit.

Then you have photos floating around of men purchasing a mass amount of propane tanks in Florida (an unusual amount even for Florida).

And you have the article about terrorist using fake passports because they had access to blank ones and a passport printing machine.

I am doing a 5k tomorrow in St.Louis and I am going to Chicago next weekend.  I can't tell you how many times it crossed my mind not to do the 5k and when I go to Chicago to go to Connie's and the suburbs, and not go to the zoo or to the german market.  I hate living in fear but honest to god worried about what's next.

Friday, December 11, 2015

No disrespect....

Guessing some people didn't appreciate my post last night about my mom. I have to clarify and didn't feel that I needed to address this in the post but will do so here.  I love and miss my dad very much.  My post has nothing to do with him and everything to do with my mom.  I don't think people realize just how hard things were for my mom many many years ago and have taken offense to my post thinking I was being disrespectful for talking about mom doing it alone.  My post was honest and raw.  It was not sugar coated.  but it was not disrespectful to my dad.  Dad and I had many conversations about my mom raising us and he would be the first to admit that she did a good job.  So please don't just my post.  It was just meant to be a thank you to my mom for all she has done.  I post quite often about missing my dad and how much I loved him but don't always give credit to the parent who is still here and was always here and realizing lately more than ever how much she means to me.  So please don't read to much into my post.  Many have no idea how hard it was for my mom all those years ago.  

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Credit Where Credit Is Due!

Nothing specific prompting this post.  Just thoughts I have had about my mom and I wanted to share because I have not given her enough credit.  

As many of you know, for a long period of time, mom was our sole provider.  She was mom and dad.  She had to do both roles and she did them well.  At times, I know I don't give her enough credit.  Being a parent myself and thinking back to everything she had to do  I realize I never thanked mom enough.  

Growing up we never had a lot of things, but I don't ever recall totally missing anything or wanting something so bad that mom couldn't give us.  I do remember one Christmas where I had to have the Pamela Talking Doll (and I got it).  My biggest memories with my mom are specific instances and not gifts.  

I remember cleaning the house every weekend and getting to go to the lake if we did what we were supposed to.  I remember getting to be with her when she bowled with Uncle Kevin, I remember going to the drive in movies, I remember laying out in our backyard in our little pool that had zoo animals on it.  I remember going for bike rides through the country.  I remember our photo shoots at the lake, on the trails, in the backyard.  I remember her making us oatmeal on our first day of school in Carlyle.  I remember mom being there for my first surgery, the birth of my first child, and so many firsts way before those.  I remember all of the cakes she baked for us.  I remember baking Christmas cookies with her.  Not just a dozen, but probably a dozen different kinds.  

Now even as an adult I remember all the times I call her because I can't remember how to boil an egg, or when I need to decorate a cake for my own child, or when that crafty project I envision in my head is not coming out in real life.  Or when my stockings are nameless, and need names.  I remember mom helping with the small details of the wedding that to me were the big details.  buying a cheap cake serving set and make it match my theme. I remember her taking my kids when I need her to.  I remember that we have fun together.  

I know that I wouldn't be the person I am today if it wasn't for the person my mom had to be years ago.  Just about everything I remember about my childhood and my mom is not about what electronic system I had or what I didn't have and wanted.  It's about specific instances and memories.  Stuff that cannot be bought, can never be exchanged and should always be returned.  :) 

I remember the times I probably thought I hated you because I didn't get my way or thought that it was the end of the world, because my mom was not my best friend but now knowing we have a close bound and you are my best friend.....I love you mom and all you do.  And I hope that knowledge will help me get through parenting my owns kids.

psst...i know i never hated you.  I just know as a teenager i was kind of an angry person and may have thought that that i didn't like you or you didn't like me, but we did love each other.  

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Christmas Songs

What is your favorite Christmas song? 
The songs that get you in the Christmas spirit or you sing along to

Here are my top 10 favorite:

All I Want for Christmas - Mariah Carey
Christmas Shoes - Newsong
Winter Wonderland - Anne Murphy
A Christmas to Remember - Kenny & Dolly
Christmas Wrapping - The Waitresses
Wizards in Winter - TSO
Hard Candy Christmas - Dolly
Christmas Canon  Rock - TSO
Santa Claus is Coming to Town - Bruce Springsteen
The Chipmunk Song - The Chipmunks

Wednesday, November 18, 2015


So I have been thinking a lot about family and what it means to me.  I have all kinds.  Blood, marriage, step (bonus).  the latter has crossed my mind a lot lately.  Divorce doesn't always have to be a bad thing.  When adults are acting like adults and making the decision that is best for them and their kids, it is actually a good thing.  Then add in when mom and dad start seeing other people and eventually one day remarry.

I am one of those stepkids.  I am one of those kids who had a stepparent growing up and he was probably the greatest thing that happened to us (at that time because nothing competes with my own kids or the day I got married).  Growing up dad treated us as his own.  We were never treated any differently and I cannot recall one time where we were introduced as his stepkids unless it was a member of his family introducing us to people and then it was this is Kenny's stepdaughter.

Divorce or relationship changes happen frequently now and 90% of the time there are kids in involved.  So here is my message to anyone that is a parent to someone else's kids.

1) don't have the mentality that they are not yours, so not your "problem".  Love them unconditionally as you do your spouse because that "child" is your spouse's blood.

2) do not treat them differently than your child or even the child(ren) you have with your spouse.  There is no room for favorites or games.  This child as strengths and weaknesses just as your other children do.  It's your job to help them find their strengths and fix their weaknesses.

3) INCLUDE THEM.  I cannot stress this enough.  Even when my parents were dating, I remember being taken to the movies.  Just the four of us.  It was nice.  He took us to six flags on several occasions, family vacation to Texas or day trips to the zoo, arch or caverns.  I remember getting to tag along on his bus runs for Zee in the charter buses.  And never once was I called his stepdaughter or his wife's daughter.  I was his daughter.

4) Don't make them feel like they have to choose.  No child should have to choose favorites.  Dad, despite knowing some of the hardships my mom faced with our dad, never tried to replace our dad.

Even as grownups, Connie introduces us as her daughters.  Not Jim's daughter's.  It's refreshing to not be a step....

Thursday, October 29, 2015

10 weeks down

I am 10 weeks into my weight loss adventure.  I am 2 weeks into my biggest loser adventure.  Just starting week 3.  When I weighed in for biggest loser I weighed 207.6 which was nearly what I started at on week 1 of my adventure.  However, for my adventure I was weighing right before the shower on sunday mornings so not as much clothing and first thing in the morning, versus full clothing (and shoes) and after dinner. I am proud to say after 2 weeks of the challenge I lost 2 pounds.  I am to 205.6.  I lost .6 the first week and 1.4 the second week.

So I am 205.6 but that's 3 pounds lighter than when I started 2 months ago and that's fully clothed so I will take it.  I feel a difference.  Still haven't jumped on the it works band wagon.  Have products I can use but I forget to take pills.  period.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Wasn't Prepared

I tried to prepare myself for my dad's passing as much as you can when you know the end is coming and thought I did a pretty good job but realizing nothing could prepare me for changes that I have no control of.  Nothing.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

4 weeks down

I am down to 200 pounds.  :)  That is down 8.5 pounds from when I initially started 4 weeks ago.  I also took measurements and then lost the paper.  I remember enough that I lost 2 inches from bust (go figure), 2" from waist, 1" from hips and .5" from my right arm.

Sorry took so long to post.  I took my weight and measurements like usual on Sunday and then felt like crap the last two days and never got on to post the results.

So those keeping track I am down 8.5 pounds of my 68 pound goal.  I have made it 12.5% into my goal and I have lost 4% of my weight in 4 weeks.  Small progress, but I will take it.

Going to sign up for a 5k in December.  It's official.  I had to come back to edit this to say I have signed up for a 5k in December.  :)  And I have the best person in the world running/jogging with me.  My sister!  So glad we are doing this.  And we get a pretty awesome jacket for doing it.  Won't be running but it will feel good to complete one.  :)

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Rough Week

Earlier this week I hit the 1 year mark since last seeing my dad.  Last getting to hug him and say I love you.  The next few days last year (and now this year because they have replayed in mind) we were given a short timeframe for him to live.  Today was actually a year ago that I thought I'll get to see him one.more.time.  We knew he probably wouldn't make it past the weekend because just the day after I left they said he had a week to live.  So today, a year ago, I told my husband I was going to make one more solo trek to see him.  I made the plans with Connie and told them I would be up there on the 12th after work.  I had made plans to leave work early.  I was going to see him one more time.

But the next day I woke up to a call from Connie that we lost my dad. I remember it took me a minute to process the information.  I thought at first that she meant she physically lost him because he was getting confused and got out of the apartment.  Then it dawned on me...he was gone.  Dad died on 9/11.  I called Ryan home from work, I told Serena and we cried.  I didn't know what to tell Xander because he wouldn't understand.  I remember telling him that he was not going to school and that we were going to Chicago.  He said Yay, we can see Grandpa Jim.  I had to explain to him that grandpa wouldn't be there because he died.  I remained composed, until he cried then we cried some more.  I went into work to talk to my manager and get things situated before leaving for a couple days.  We left around 9 a.m. and were there by 2 p.m.  I remember the generosity of everyone when we got there.  Seeing dad's maintenance guys or the parking attendants cry is something I will never forget.  Ever.  The generosity of Hawthorne House employees and residents was overwhelming.

I have a ton of people to thank for getting me through that time and will probably miss a few, but you know who you are.

This year has been hard.  A lot of firsts without him.  A lot more to come.  I always took it for granted that he would be here to see Serena graduate grade school, high school and college.  She graduates high school in 8 months and he won't be there.  A lot that he is going to miss.

I think about him all the time and miss him more than words can say.

Here's my post from a year ago.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015


I feel like I have to put this out there because I see the looks I get when I call my dad, Kenny, dad...Here's the deal.  He has been in my life since I was 7 or 8.  Can't remember exact timeframe.  I would guess probably 7.  Someone asked me if it seems a little disrespectful to my dad Jim that I called my "step" dad, dad.  I don't think it is.

He was there for us for years before I started seeing my dad again.  Years.  He took care of us.  He made sure we had a roof, clothes, food, took us to movies, to Six Flags, to Dallas, to the Arch, the meremac caverns, etc.  We had our ups and downs like any dad and teenage daughter  But he was and always will be dad.  I called him dad for years before I got to see my dad again.  My dad and I even talked about it on several occasions and he knew where I stood with both of them.  I love them both.  They are both my dad and one will not replace the other.  I am just lucky.  

Monday, September 7, 2015

3 weeks down......

I have 3 weeks complete from my lifestyle change.  So I weighed myself and I am down!

Starting weight:  208.5
Week 1 - 203.5
Week 2   - 203.5
Week 3 - 201

Yep you read that right.  I am down to 201.  Almost under the 200 mark and it feels incredible.

Next week I will be taking measurements!

I know not everyone cares about my progress but posting for the few that do and for those that don't you don't have to read my blog.

Considering doing the hot chocolate run in December.  Who's with me?

On another note, today is a year ago that I hugged my dad for the last time.  Told him that I loved him for the last time.  And was the beginning of an emotional week that I was not mentally prepared for.

I love you dad.  Our relationship was far from perfect but it was what it was and was a huge part of who I am.  I think what I cherished most is the fact that you and I could have frank conversations about the past.  You never denied or hid the things that went wrong or discounted how hard mom worked to raise us.  You never took credit for the way we turned out.  You, at the best of times, had respect for my other dad.  Our relationship came a long way and I wouldn't change anything other than having you around a little longer.

Friday, September 4, 2015

Couldn't do it

Yep, I couldn't do it.  I lasted not even 24 hours without Facebook.  I have to be in the know too much.  Plus I get bored in my own little world not interacting AND i don't watch the news.  I get it from Facebook.  So I am back "on" just trying to not be on so much.  Even considering deleting the apps off my phone.

I got through the 1st chapter of my study guide.  Only 4 or 5 more to go, and these bad boys to study with.  Serena laughed at me last night when I said can you grab my book bag.  She goes....ha, that's funny.  And Xander earlier this week, I said Xander, is your homework done?  He responded:  Is YOURS?  really kid.

That kid is going to give us a run for our money!  He failed a pretest this week because he was distracted.  He said by a fly.  Ms. R said by the boys around him so she moved him.

So I will limit my facebook time and maybe not post daily but will try to post blogs.  Trying to limit my extra activities too which right now with soccer and band coming up my schedule is fuller than I would like, so if I decline doing something, take no offense.

Have a great Labor Day weekend.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

better later than never...Week 2 Results


I forgot to post my weekly results this week.

They are pretty lame.  Good news is I didn't gain....bad news is I didn't lose.

That being said I am going to try giving up facebook.  It's a huge timewaster.  I am going to try to check in once or twice a week because I am in charge of a craft and vendor fair and get a lot of hits from facebook.  I am also going to still post me daily features of the crafters and vendors starting next week but going to try to not respond to Facebook posts or scroll through my wall.

I need to focus on:
1) passing my series 6 and 63;
2) my kids' school, band and soccer schedules;
3)  our house - outside renovations
4) my weight
5) my marriage

There is a ton more I need to work on but these 5 are my top priorities.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015


My dad did whole body donation.  I contacted them back in June and asked for information on what my dad's body went to.  What did he help?  Where did he go?

I finally got a letter from the facility.  I already knew from his death certificate he was sent to St. Louis.  I found out that during the 8 weeks they had his body they used him for surgical purposes.  They did a shoulder surgery and a hip replacement.

So there you have it.  He helped someone or a lot of someones.  His body was too cancer ridden to do organ donation but he will help someone, someday.  Might be a baseball player, or maybe your grandpa.  But dad's whole body donation helped someone and times like makes me smile.

Miss you dad.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

More Changes...

So I am sticking to my salads in a jar.  I need to research some more feasible salad in a jar options, but in the meantime, I just changed the dressing.  I changed from what I was using the last 2 weeks and decided to get 2 dressings and alternate them.  Hoping that will lessen the likelihood of me going off course because of being bored with my salads.  The salads are going well.  I have dressing, cucumbers, mushrooms, tomatoes, sunflower seeds, spinach leaves, cheese and hard boiled eggs... in that order going from bottom to top.  I measure everything out so I don't just dump or add more of the good stuff (cheese...egg....).  The lettuce is still crisp when I get it out unless I managed to dump it over in the bag from my walk to the car and to the office.  I still eat grapes and need more frozen fruit.  I need to find the frozen pineapple.  That is my favorite.

I am also going to make some "healthy" fudge.  Oxymoron, I know as my sister pointed out.  However, it is relatively healthy.  and only 5 ingredients, 6 if I put the Peanut Butter in it.  I can't wait to make it and more importantly, can't wait to try it.

Tomorrow I weigh in.  Not feeling too fantastic about this week but we'll see.

People have asked what I am doing and whether I considered using any products, like itworks.  Now I don't doubt they work, because I have seen all of the pictures of it working....NOW.  My fear is those are temporary fixes and a big part of any weightloss whether with or without products is diet and exercise so until I get that part of my life straightened out, I won't get anywhere using product, or I will temporarily.  So that being said I have decided not to use any products.  I have some and maybe in a few months when I hit that brick wall and get in a rut so I am not going to say I won't use any ever.  Just for now, I am doing it this way.  I may need that extra oomph later, but for now I need to change my lifestyle otherwise I will just go back to the bad habits.  So until then I think I need to change habits and get into a better, healthier mindset.  Because I know those products will only work if I change my diet and exercise.  If I don't, those products will be a waste of money.  I feel like if I start using the products and I am not in a healthy eating habit, I will just go back to eating crap.  I know I need to change my mindset and my ways in order to lose.  Am I going to cheat a little?  Definitely.  Will I get discouraged at times?  Absolutely.  Will I be doing it for the right reasons and giving it my best show?  Positively.  And that's all I can do.

I am not happy with my body.  Haven't been in a while and instead of doing something about it, I keep doing the same thing I have always done and wonder why I weight 203.5 pounds.  I KNOW I can lose it.  I KNOW I NEED to lose it.  Now I NEED to just DO it.  I need to make better choices and work on being healthier, happier and skinnier for me.  No one else wants it, and no one else cares if I am a size 16 or a size 8.  BUT I CARE. And my caring is affecting me, I think because I am not happy, then people around me care about my size.  My husband is supportive and has never complained about my weight. He has complained about me complaining about my weight and how crappy I feel and not doing anything about it to lose it.  So for myself I am putting forth effort to be healthy, happy and skinny.  I NEED THIS FOR ME.

And as far as why I am sharing this with the world wide web.  Mainly, for accountability.  But a huge part is also for motivation.  When I get in my rut, I will come back to these first few posts and remind myself how bad I want and need to lose this weight.

Until the next time....

Wednesday, August 26, 2015


First my thoughts and prayers go out to the two journalists' families and friends who were shot and killed during their morning interview.  My thoughts go out to their coworkers too, especially their significant others who worked at the same station.  Their lives are forever changed and will be forever marked by what happened today.  A person they worked with and saw on a daily basis, not only at home but at work, is gone.  Gone because of someone's senseless act.  The guy was twisted.  Who does that on LIVE tv and films it himself.

On another note, I found out today that a letter I have been waiting on for about 4 weeks is coming in the very near future.  It was mailed today!  It feels like longer than 4 weeks.  Feels like I have been waiting a year for it.

Found out this week serena more than likely has sports induced asthma.  HUGE thank you to the nurse who was the game and walked her through it on the sidelines.  We now have an inhaler and have appts to have tests done to confirm the diagnosis.  She has practice and games between now and the tests so they prescribed an inhaler to use in case it happens again.

Serena is LOVING soccer, other than the 10 minutes she felt like someone was crushing her chest.

Xander is still well Xander.  He likes the idea of soccer and changes his mind daily and whether or not he likes it.

Monday, August 24, 2015

1 week check in

I weighed myself for my Week 1 progress.  So I was at 208.5 last week Sunday.  I weighed myself yesterday and I am at:


That's progress.  That's just changing my diet slightly and a few walks in there.  I need to get more active and make a few more diet changes and I am sure I will see a lot more progress.

That's also what I weighed on Friday when I cheated and checked my weight so I didn't lose any over the weekend BUT more importantly I didn't gain anything. That's with drinking with mom on Friday night, out to get on Saturday night AND ice cream with the kids yesterday.  Yep I was horrible this weekend but I wasn't stressed.  And also I understand I can do things in moderation.  Now I need to work harder this week so the wine, the pork steak and the concrete don't stay with permanently.

So until next week....

Friday, August 21, 2015

Day 5 - counting down

So I stepped on the scale this morning out of curiosity to see how I am doing.  Happy to say I am down 5 pounds.  Not recording that yet until Sunday when I take my official 1 week results (weight).  but I am happy with that progress and realize that I won't lose that every week but it feels pretty good to see the scale go down.

Only 63.5 more pounds to go until my goal weight.

I need to get out there and exercise.  It's been a bad week and I know every week can be a bad week if I let it.  I need to out each night even if it's just for a 20 min.  power walk.  Something to get moving.  I am horrible about going alone.  I hate walking alone.  Maybe I should use my ipod more and go alone.

And I might breakout the just dance this weekend.  That has helped me before.  An hour of just dance and your legs feel like jello, but it's fun so it doesn't feel like a workout.

Wish me luck!

Also going to see a dermatologist for the first time today.  That's kind of scary.  Just for a check because never had my skin checked.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Day 4 -

I am on day 4 of my lifestyle change.  I feel pretty fantastic actually.

I have not exercised much this week, but just changing some of my eating habits I feel 100 times better.

I eat peanut butter toast for breakfast, grapes for mid a.m. snack, salad (in a jar) for lunch and frozen great value fruit for afternoon snack.  I eat a normal dinner with my family.  I drink nothing but water right now.  Trying to increase my water intake.  I really hope to completely give up soda.  I have done it so many times and I always go back to it.

Here's to getting skinnier, healthier and happier.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

new lifestyle

I  am almost leary to put this out there because I don't always follow through.  I have good intentions but get easily distracted by ski and other goodies.  I need to get healthy.  I am over 200 pounds.  Yep 200 pounds.  That about 20 pounds heavier than the day I had xander.  And about 60 Pounds heavier than my weight when I met my husband.  Actually probably 75 pounds from when I met Ryan.  I 2ould love to get back to that.  But first I want to set a realistic goal.  What is realistic though?  Can I relistically lose 60 to 75 pounds in a year?  I know starting off I need to start off smaller but ideally I would love to be back where I was 15 years ago pre kids, prehysterectomy, etc.  So what's the recommended goal for say your first month?

I am cutting out soda (again) as of today.  I want to get back in a routine of walking and bike riding and even some just dance routines (yes those helped me before).

I need this weight gone.  This is for me and no one else.

So here it is people....starting weight:


Goal weight:

Why am I putting these numbers out there?  For accountability.  I hope to be able to post weekly changes in the right direction. And I hope to pick up some encouragement and strength along the way.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

A review...finally and thoughts....

I posted a cliffnotes version of a review from our cruise the day we got back.  Now 3 months later I am going to give a more detailed review.

We stayed at the Jacksonville Plaza Hotel in Jacksonville, FL and would not recommend it to anyone.  The shuttle package was not what it was explained to be over the phone and the front desk person was a snot and that's putting it nicely.  The bed was good, the room was clean but quite frankly hotels that offer the shuttle are a dime a dozen down there so nothing that is really going to draw me back there.

We went to Little Talbot Island and hunted seashells.  Serena found a shark tooth and xander found a jellyfish (quite a few actually).  He wanted to bring one back to his teacher but I talked him into a seashell instead.

We ate at Sticky Fingers which I would give 5 stars.  We arrived there about 15 min before closing so I went in to see if it would be a problem to get food that late.  The hostess said absolutely not so we went in.  Everyone was very pleasant, the food was good, service was great and the price was not outrageous.  I would definitely go back.

Faster to the Fun:  Worth every penny.  It's $50 per cabin.  And gets you onboard faster.  We arrived at 12:30 and were in our room by 1.  It also gets your room available faster.  You get priority guest services.  If you go to tender ports, it gets you priority tender too.

Assigned Time Dining:  We chose the 6 p.m. dining vs. 8:15 because we knew Xander would not last until 8:15.  We did not choose the anytime dining because I wanted the experience of having the same family with us and same waiters.  The dining experience was great.  Food was phenomenal.  Our only complaint was one family at our table showed up late one night so our food was held for 20 min.  we were late getting out of dinner and late to a show we wanted to see and almost missed it entirely because they put up the capacity sign as we were walking in.

Punchliner Comedy Club - This is held in one of the other clubs (so don't look for a club called Punchliner when you board.  On the Fascination, it was held in the Puttin on the Ritz.  We saw one comedian, The Fryman, and he was awesome and from St. Louis.  His humor was kind of crude but funny and we enjoyed it.  He had a pg show but it was borderline.

Bubbles Package:  We did not get this package.  I think it's $6/day/person.  However we brought our soda on and I don't drink Coke products so it was useless.  Not to mention they had water, lemonade and tea accessible.

Cheers Program: $50/day/person for each 21 year old in the cabin.  For us, light (social) drinkers it was not worth it.  We would need to drink at least 8 drinks to break even.  10 in ryan's case.  Neither one of us drink that much in a normal basis so it would have been stupid to try to do it on vacation.  So we did not buy this program.

Sea Sick:  I brought peppermint oil on the ship and applied it to Xander frequently.  I used it the minute I felt queasy and we were both fine.  Ryan never had an issue and well Serena said she felt fine until about 5 min before she got sick so it was too late to apply oil.  Medicine from the front desk was useless but she wouldn't be able to keep it down.  The seabands from the store on the ship worked until the last day (sea day) when the waters were really rough.

Circle C - This is the club for kids serena's age (12-14).  They met usually starting around 4 p.m. each day and had activities planned until 1 a.m. It usually ended each night with pizza and/or ice cream social.  They played board games (apples to apples), had wii dance off, digital scavenger hunts, and regular scavenger hunts.

Camp Carnival - This is the club for Xander's age (2-11, which was split into 2-5 and 6-11).  They met from 9 a.m  to 10 p.m. for free then Nightowl started at 10 p.m. for $7/hour/kid.  Some nights they had special parties starting at 10 that cost $20 a person (glow in the dark).  They did a movie one night in a conference room.  They had two dance parties in a nightclub with soda.  They also would serve the kids dinner in there if you didn't want them in the main dining room with you. The security was great.  They knew our names but still requested to see our sail and sign cards before giving xander to us.  He loved it there.  So much we let him go there instead of off the ship with us in Freeport.

Hasbro Game Show - This was entertaining to watch.  They get audience participation so sit down near the stage and get excited.

Pictures - They take your picture for everything!  Getting onboard, getting off, getting back on, every night in the dining room, at about 8 different backdrops each night before dining, at Carnival excursions, so be prepared to spend a ton or be strong willed and don't even think about trying to take a picture of a picture.  They will catch you.  I didn't try it but saw people who did.

Sail and Sign - This is your ticket to EVERYTHING on the ship.  It gets you in your room.  Pays your bar tab. works on the arcade machines, bought our pictures, etc.  While on the ship we left our cash and cards in the safe in the cabin.  Our sail and signs were on lanyards like these.  I got them from 5 and below.  We had one that didn't have the detachable clip and Xander wore it.  He rarely needed to swipe his (just when boarding and debarking).  These made using your cards easier.  You didn't have to take the whole lanyard off your neck, you unclipped, swiped and clipped.

Information on Sail and Sign cards:  You can fund this with cash  They give a suggested amount and don't recall what that was (I think like $100 per person).  We only put $225 on it and we were fine until we bought our photos the last night.  You can also link your debit or credit card to it, fund it with carnival cash or get carnival gift cards at Lowes and they add that to your account when you board.  You can check your balance at kiosks.  You can also turn off spending for kids and set limits from the kiosk

Things we brought onboard that we were glad we did.  None of these are a necessity and some may some it was pointless to bring.  Just wanted to share what we did, what worked and what didn't.

power strip.  You have to bring one that does not say surge protector on it or have a surge butotn.  However, we used this one and it wasn't taken.  You have an outlet in the bathroom and one by the desk.  The one in the bathroom is not even strong enough for a hair dryer.  We were told by the steward to do our hair by the desk.  Some say this is not necessary to bring one on.  We were glad we did.  While we didn't use our phones as phones for the week I did use mine as a clock, an alarm and a camera.  The battery didn't drain that fast because of being in airplane mode but it was nice to charge every day.  We also had our camera to charge, plus doing hair (dryer, curling iron, etc)

Ski! - Yep we brought ski onboard.  We brought 2 - 12 packs for a 5 day cruise.  We could probably get by with 1 on a 5 day.  I would consider 2 12 packs for a 7 day though.  You are allowed to bring 12 cans per person.  Must be in a sealed box.  They have soda onboard and a bubbles package to make it a bit cheaper if you drink a ton of soda, but they have coke products.  I am not a fan.  I actually drank water, lemonade and tea frequently which are all free.  We also had a case of water sent to our room to avoid lugging that on as well.  Now that is your only option for water because they have banned bringing water or soda bottles on board because of rule breakers (alcohol sneakers).

Over the door shoe hanger - These work perfectly over the bathroom door and are excellent storage.  The rooms are tiny.  These held all of our meds, bathroom supplies, first aid kit, room spray, etc.  This is not my picture.  I stole it from the net.

Room Spray:  Yep.  Your room is the size of a shoe box.  Smells tend to linger so we brought a beachy smelly room mist from BBW.

Norwex Enviro cloth.  I brought a travel size along.  Cabins are known to be germy despite their cleaning between cruises.  So just in case I wiped everything with one of these.  And we were spared any gastro viruses, etc.

Peppermint oil - AWESOME for motion sickness.  Worked for me and X.

water shoes- we used these to walk our first port.  because we were doing the beach that day too.  it's kind of rocky on some beaches.

Thirty One Slingback backpack - This was great on the ship and in ports.  I used this and had camera, phone, first aid, peppermint.  I used a black cross body purse for the dining room at night and our nights on the ship without the kids.

Jamberry wraps.  These are super easy to apply even on a moving ship.  Painting our nails in the room would have been a nightmare.  Between the constant moving and the small confined spaces (again smells).

Cups with lids - These were great for the soda we brought onboard as well as for the water, lemonade and tea on lido.

Quarters if you wish to use the washers/dryers.  I did this to avoid a ton of laundry on mother's day when we returned.  Sea Days it is impossible to get a washer/dryer.

Bring a jacket or sweater.  It's chilly in the dining room and on lido at night.  They have shampoo and bodywash in the showers.  However, we brought conditioner as the shampoo seems to be drying.

We also brought highlighters to mark the fun times with what wanted to do, a dry erase board and marker to communicate in the cabin with each other and the room steward, duct tape (this came in handy a few times).

Other tips would be to take a picture of your luggage.  This helped us track ours down when it didn't show up with other priority luggage.

I brought baby powder (helps get sand off) and wet wipes (kept in bag at port).  We didn't bring  beach towels.  We used the carnival ones.  Just keep track of them because they got like $20 each if not returned.  We also brought Xander's life jacket (puddle jumper), plastic bags for wet stuff and 2-3 swimsuits per person, plus tanks, shorts, etc for during the day and then nicer clothes for dinner.  I wish I could pack lighter but i didn't want to be without anything and be forced to pay triple the price in their shops.  Like for the seabands for Serena, which we didn't bring and will bring next time.

We had trip insurance through travelguard for $116 total.  This covered medical in case something would happen (most US medical insurance is not valid outside the US).

We also prepaid our gratuities so that expense was taken care of.

Bring a "dead" gift card for the older ships that have the swipe type safe.  The newer ships have keypads.  The older ones have a swiper thing for your credit card or sail and sign.  However, saw lots of review about it demagnetizing them so we used a gift card and hid in in the room so that the other person still had access to safe if you were not around.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Why do I Relay

That's a big number.

That's an even bigger number.

What do these numbers mean?  Well it's been 329 days since we lost my dad.  333 days since I last got to see him.

Here's some more numbers.

That's how many Americans will be diagnosed with oral cancer this year.

That's how many will die this year from oral cancer.

Not only is that the year my dad was born and how old he was when he died.  It's also the percentage of American's who survive oral cancer for 5 years.

That's how many days from the date of my dad's diagnosis until the day he left us.

That is Serena's goal for this year.

is where we currently are.

That's today's date.  Clinton County Relay is tonight.

That's what time you can see survivors make that victorious lap.

is when the luminaria ceremony is.

Come join us.  Donate to our team if you wish.  Walk for someone you know.  Remember everyone who battles.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

We're back.

A detailed review will come later.  Here are some observations and just fun facts about our cruise.

1) there was a jansen onboard from breese, il. 

2) our comedian was from st. Louis, mo.  I hope to see him sometime again.  He was funny.

3) if you can get past the structure of eating at 6 pm doing reservations are worth it.  We had a good relationship with our wait staff...wasudon, Nazer and leonoldo.  And Stan the man was awesome too.

4) hasbro game show is worth it.

5) punchline comedy was worth it.

6) xander did not get sick from car or sea...but serena had a miserable time on both sea days. 

7) evidently tropical storm anna tried joining our party few times and made for rough waters....the ocean had speed bumps!

8) Loved our cruise entainers.  Our assistant cruise director was phenomenonal...CD was pretty good...but ryan was my favorite.

9) the dr. Seuss features were great.

10) loved nassau. ...freeport was sketchy

I will do a review with pics later.

Edited to add I love camp carnival and circle c. 

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Best Traveling Tip

What is your best traveling tip?

We have done car trips (not 14 hours) but I am not really worried about that.

I just want any tips you can give us for while we are on the cruise.  I already know a few-

-Pack an insulated cup for water and bring water enhancers (mio, crystal light, etc)
-decorate your door
-bring magnets
-bring surge protector
-don't bring beach towels
-bring over the door shoe organizer for bathroom (thanks tanya)
-bring anything you think you might need (meds, hygiene products, etc) because it's expensive on the ship
-bring lanyards or ask the casino for some
-use velcro straps to wrap charging cords

Wednesday, March 4, 2015


That's what this is.
Just random thoughts going through my head. 

I miss my dad.
A lot.
I knew I would miss him.

It's no secret that our relationship was rocky, at best, for years.
But it got better over time.
Specifically it was immensely better after I became a parent.
Maybe because I put forth more effort so my daughter would know grandpa.
It's no secret I gave him a hard time.
Part of me feels guilty but part of me knows that he probably didn't expect any less from me
because afterall I was his child and I very much have his personality and attitude

I love my dad.  I miss him more than I thought possible 
and would give just about anything to talk to him one more time.  
Scratch that.  I talk to him ALL the time. 
I would give anything to hear bite me.
I loved our late night conversations when I would get to his apartment. 
I could be dead tired but when I got there and started talking I would wake up.
He would always ask...How's your mom and Ken?
He would ask about the boys and my grandma.

Lately I think a lot about him.  
I read the emails I kept from him. 
Towards the last few months, they were very short because it was all he could manage.
I still have not deleted his number from my phone.  I can't.

His memorial is coming up in May.  Maybe that's why he is on my mind. 
Now we are going on vacation and it just brought back a flood of memories of him.
He approached me about taking serena on vacation with them after he beat his cancer.
We also tried to plan a Disney trip years ago.

I have a mousepad on my desk with his photos on it.
They make me smile and tear up.
I miss him.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Round and Round We Go, Where We Stop Nobody Knows....

Just kidding.  I never stop.  
That is an issue. 

The next two months will be a whirlwind. 
A lot is going on. 

We are holding a quarter auction in March to benefit 
our Relay for Life Team for Clinton County Relay for Life. 
This has been a lot of work and cannot wait for the day to get here.  
I hope we have a good turn out. 
Our team is small but I firmly believe we can do big things.
I want this even to be more than just raising money for cancer. 
I want it to be family fun event. 
I am beyond thrilled that my mom, sister, daughter and I are doing this together. 
Without their help, I'd go nuts. 

We have eye appointments, a passport appointment and band event covering every Saturday in March, in addition to the quarter auction. 

In April, we have my niece's birthday, Easter and Xander's birthday.  
Not to mention, probably another band event and getting ready for vacation.  
The car needs maintenance before we go (not yet but before making a 14 hour drive).
Items need to be bought (more summer clothes, swim suits, travel stuff)
Arrangements need to be finalized for the dogs.  
We have someone lined up but I think we need to do a meet n greet with them
 because Abbie is a bit protective of the house. 

Friday, February 20, 2015

Goal Met

On January 2, I posted my goals for this year.  

One was to plan a family vacation.  Somewhere beachy.  

Well I did and we are going somewhere beachy but not just beachy.  

We are going on a cruise. 

Thanks to my sister's encouragement of how wonderful they are 
and a impeccably timed Facebook post by KMOV 
we are going on a cruise to the Bahamas. 

All four of us. 
We have been married 10 years this fall. 
Never had a honeymoon.
We have never done a family vacation 
aside from a group vacation to Holiday World 
and frequent Chicago visits which I don't count 
because that is a 2nd home to me. 

Ryan has done GenCon, 
I have done girls' trips to Nashville, Chicago, and a float trip. 

We need a family vacation.  

So yes, I suppose we could ditch the kids and go just us.  
A lot of people have asked why we are taking the kids.  
Because...that's pretty much it.  Just because.  
Because nothing beats seeing your kids excitement of doing something new. 
Because nothing beats getting away from it all with your entire family. 
Because our kids are at a "perfect" age to remember and enjoy this trip.
Because NOW is the time to enjoy our kids.
Because later we can go on a trip just the two of us. 
Because this just seems like we would enjoy it more.
Because I don't want to regret not taking them. 
Because I don't want to miss them. 
Because I don't want to think, ahh Serena would have liked this
or Xander would have enjoyed that. 
We could go just the two of us but what's the point.

We will still get alone time. 
We will get family time. 
We will have fun and they will have fun.  

Wednesday, February 18, 2015


People have asked me because of my posts recently of how "wonderful" my job is 
if I hated my old job that much or if it was that bad there or if I miss anything from there.  
My job had good days and bad days like any job.  
It’s just being this close to home and working for a family oriented company cannot be beat.  
Hands down the best move I ever made.  
I miss some parts of working there and I miss some people from there.  
But this job change truly is the best thing I have ever done 
and opened new doors for me like getting my producers license.  
I am just happier here.  
That’s all.  
Yes I am still in my honeymoon phase 
but seriously even in the worst of days I walk out of here smiling. 
 I am able to leave it all here.  
I used to let things fester inside all the way and just get more and more mad about things 
so when I got home, I was in a foul mood.  
Now, if something is bothering me, I have a 2 min. drive until I pick up Xander and once I see him anything that I was thinking about just goes away because that kid is a nut.    
This job was a good move for me.  
A good move for my family and good move for my sanity.  
I feel blessed that this opportunity came when it did.  
That's all.  
I am happy.

Friday, January 23, 2015

What a day

This whole surgery process has been a cluster.  So first we schedule it for 1/27 at Breese.  I ask surgeon's office if we need any clearance because of heart murmur.  They said to ask regular doctor.  Regular doctor said bring to hospital's attention so they could decide if pre cert is needed.  I called Breese last week and they said they would do his preop interview early this week and decide.  Tuesday I get a call from surgeon office to say they had to cancel and reschedule for mid Feb.  I said it needed to be sooner than later.  She said just a second let me see if St. Mary's (Centralia). Calls back and says St. Mary's can get us in on Monday 1/26.  okay great.  Do we need any pre surgery bloodwork or EKG.  she says she will call back.  Get a call from our family doc (not pediatrician) stating that no EKG is needed...surgeon's office said no bloodwork was needed so I assumed okay do they do it the morning of? I get a call from St. Mary's surgery dept for medical interview.  She asked did you get bloodwork?  I said  no, no one ordered it.  She said you'll need to follow up with surgeon.  Go through his medical history and she stops at the murmur and says did they order EKG.  I said no, I was told it was not needed.  Call surgeon and asked about bloodwork.  she says oh shoot I forgot.  So then they fax me lab request.  I leave work, get xander from school, fight to get him into carseat, fight to get him out of carseat, carry him into the hospital all while he screams they are not taking my blood. I need my blood. Do registration, lab girl calls us in (and has a buddy because i warned them he is terrified of needles since hospitalization in 2013) they try to reason with him for 20 minutes and then finally we had to  have me hold him, strapping one arm down, while another tech held the arm that was being stuck and the original tech stuck his arm while another tech stood to his other side trying to get him to talk to her.  Blood was successfully drawn.  He was concerned all the way to school about the blood he "lost"...i go back to work and get a call 2 hours later that hey, we just found out from hospital he has to have a preclearance from his pediatrician or surgery is canceled. While dealing with that the hospital calls to register him.  Get off the phone with them and call doc office and we get an appt with pediatrician.  Go see pediatrician who bitches about the 500 pages of records that Dr. Wagner sent over from A to Z.  finally finds what he needs and decides that based on an echo and ekg from 2010 he does not need another one but he did hear a slight murmur.  and now we are home.  And hopefully i don't get anymore last minute, oh wait we need this.  because the more they forget the more nervous I am going into what should be a simple procedure.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Welcome 2015!

2015 is here.

What are my goals this year?

Aside from the normal lose weight, I want to:

Participate in a 5k.  
I say participate because if I say Run and never get to that running point, 
I won't go through with it.  
So I say participate...meaning probably a run/jog/walk combo. 
 But I will do one. 

Go on a family vacation.
I want beachy but Ryan is not a beachy person.
Maybe mountains would be nice.
but I see GenCon being in a future before beach or mountains.

I also want to do Holiday World.  
I think Xander would love it. 

Figure out what's best for me and my family.  
Took a huge step last year by changing jobs
and by taking my insurance exam. 
So the job situation has been figured out 
but now I want to figure out other areas. 

First by decluttering our house.  
I was going to go through stuff and do a yardsale 
but decided I have been trying that route for 7 years
and made no progress and it is overwhelming.
So somebody will be getting donations.
I need to declutter.

I need to declutter our house but also our lives.
Some people just cause way too much stress.
Stress that I don't need.
Stress that causes problems.